US Students for Palestine Under Attack

The congressional committee hearing of three elite university presidents earlier this month slandered the Palestine solidarity movement on college campuses, writes Natalia Marques.

Pro-Palestinian protest at University of California, Berkeley on Oct. 25. (Kefr4000, Wikimedia Commons, CC0)

By Natalia Marques
Peoples Dispatch

On Dec. 5, the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania were grilled in a congressional hearing relating to alleged instances of calls for the genocide of Jewish people — instances which were, in reality, Palestine solidarity protests led and organized by students. 

The fallout from this hearing, in which the presidents were repeatedly pressured by right-wing Congress members to denounce pro-Palestine students, has led to the resignation of one president and escalating calls by pro-Israel conservatives for the resignation of the other two.  The hearing also illustrated the repeated attacks on the student movement for Palestine in the U.S.

A particular focus of the pro-Zionist leaders of the hearing, such as Republican Elise Stefanik, was to push the university presidents to say that their students, in chanting “from the river to the sea” and “long live the intifada,” were calling for the genocide of Jewish people. 

“Will admissions offers be rescinded or any disciplinary action be taken against students or applicants who say, ‘From the river to the sea,’ or ‘ intifada,’ advocating for the murder of Jews,” Stefanik asked Claudine Gay, Harvard’s president. Within Stefanik’s question was the implication that pro-Palestine demonstrations at Harvard, led by students, were “advocating for the murder of Jews.”

Important to note is that Stefanik’s concern for Jewish people appears to be new — last year, she endorsed Carl Paladino, who called Hitler “the kind of leader we need today,” for the House of Representatives. 

Gay, for her part, clearly stumbled through the question, as the remaining two university presidents did when asked similar questions. 

“As I’ve said, that type of hateful, reckless, offensive speech is personally abhorrent to me,” said Gay, refusing to defend her students while at the same time showing unwillingness to take action against them. 

“You’re saying today that no action will be taken. What action will be taken?” Stefanik asked her. 

“When speech crosses into conduct that violates our policies, including policies against bullying, harassment, or intimidation, we take action and we have robust disciplinary processes that allow us to hold individuals accountable,” Gay answered.

As a result of the fallout from the hearing, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill published a public apology and resigned from her position following pressure from trustees

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Claudine Gay has been able to maintain her position thus far, but is facing growing attacks by right-wing pundits who are hounding her with newfound plagiarism accusations. It is clear that such academic-based attacks are a thin cover for a growing desire to oust Gay for her lack of willingness to take disciplinary measures against pro-Palestine students. 

[Related: Academic Freedom Under Fire as Gaza Burns]

Leading the Charge 

At the helm of such accusations are right-wing pundits such as Ben Shapiro and Christopher Rufo, the latter being responsible for demonizing the term “critical race theory” as a way to prevent the teaching of the U.S. history of racism in public schools.

[Related: Covering Up Slavery in the Birth of the US]

At institutions such as Harvard, students involved in the Palestine solidarity movement have been under attack by wealthy and powerful Zionists since Oct. 8, when the student group Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee released a groundbreaking statement in solidarity with Palestine, and holding “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,” of Oct. 7. 

Shortly afterwards, students in the organizations who had signed onto the statement were systematically targeted by outsider right-wingers and billionaire alums. 

Stefanik and other Congressmembers holding the hearing did not say a word about the students at multiple universities, including Harvard and Columbia, who have had their personal information released publicly due to their involvement in Palestine solidarity organizing.

The three Palestinian students who were shot in a hate crime in Vermont while they spoke Arabic and wore keffiyehs, one of whom could be paralyzed for life, only received one brief mention in the entire hearing.

“Doxxing trucks,” bankrolled by Adam Guillette, who runs the right-wing corporation Accuracy in Media, have circled these campuses with the names of students who are at all associated with the pro-Palestine movement on their campuses. 

Kojo Acheampong, a Harvard student who was featured on one such truck circling his campus, has faced disciplinary action for his Palestine solidarity organizing after leading a rally and a walkout, chanting “from the river to the sea.”

“It’s completely wrong to say that we’re calling for the genocide of Jews. In fact, we’re against all genocide. That’s why we stand with Palestine,” Acheampong told Peoples Dispatch.

“Those are liberatory chants. Intifada means shaking off. It means that the Palestinians are trying to shake off their oppression. They’re trying to live in dignity. They’re trying to live in peace. That’s what we’re calling for. We’re diametrically opposed to genocide.”

Acheampong says those leading the charge against the university presidents encompass those “who are against… initiatives to make people of color feel more comfortable on campuses.” He said:

“It’s the right-wingers who don’t even want to teach things like Jim Crow apartheid right here in America. Those are the people who are making these accusations, that us students are somehow anti-semitic, or calling for the genocide of Jewish people. It’s these right-wing politicians who have constantly been on the wrong side of history who are saying this. And so we understand that in this moment, it’s actually a testament to our protests, and it’s a testament to us as organizers, that the ruling class feels so shaken up that they have to hold a hearing like this. It means that we’re making an impact.”

Natalia Marques is a correspondent for Peoples Dispatch. 

This article is from  Peoples Dispatch.  

Views expressed in this article may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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7 comments for “US Students for Palestine Under Attack

  1. December 21, 2023 at 21:29

    Shutting down speech opposing settler-colonialism, apartheid, and genocide with outrageous arguments to the effect that the perpetrators are innocent victims of genocidal incitement reminds me of a 1940 Hollywood movie, “Mortal Storm,” starring James Stewart, in which Nazism takes hold in a small German town and anyone who speaks out against it is demonized, ostracized, and ultimately punished with death.

  2. JackLomax
    December 21, 2023 at 17:52

    Many years ago group of very rich Jewish people gained de facto control of theUS governance system. They were politely named Neocons but were actually Zionists. They have never relinquished that underground power nor ever will. All of the so called Liberalism in America is allowed unless it becomes effective or if it in any way threatens Jewish Zionism in any way even the most peaceful and nonviolent way . America has a brilliant PR front as the land of the brave and the free. But objective reality shows it as the land where most mass murders of civilians occur and the land whose armed forces constantly invade and attempt to destroy any country not part of its empire and any perceived as a threat. At the apex of this mass murder machine are the colleges and universities which prepare the elite for their role in this mass murder machine disguised as a leading democracy and as the land of the brave and the free. Hollywood began its life as the machine to spew this lying vision out to the unwary but has long been superseded by more efficient methods.

  3. Adam Gorelick
    December 21, 2023 at 17:36

    These baseless attacks on students protesting Israel’s genocide bring to mind the Nixon administration’s hostility towards college campus demonstrations against the futile and horrific Vietnam war. In response to that – as well as the black power movement – we were gifted with the “War On Drugs.” That the same loathsome individuals who are vociferously opposed to educating students about the history of entrenched racism in America are against exposing Zionist genocidal policies of Israel is at least consistent. But characters like Elise Stefanik or Debbie Wasserman Shultz are more representative of a strain of politician that embraces authoritarianism and is vigorously censorious, but empty of any ideology other than careerism. Just as Israel is now acting on a long desired final solution for it’s Palestinian question, the United States { right and left } is seizing every opportunity to address it’s free speech problem. From an admittedly anemic anti-war movement to Covid Big Pharma propaganda, policy and censorship, this battering of human rights protestors is just one more authoritarian attempt to smother expression that runs counter to corporate totalitarianism and the now crumbling world order

  4. Selina Sweet
    December 21, 2023 at 16:02

    So, exactly what Democrats were participating in this hounding of the three university presidents? If not hounding, then
    not contributing their voice to the grilling? I would sure like to know and am sorry this essay didn’t include that information.
    No elected voice seems to possess the gravitas, knowledge and wisdom to parse and clarify where Zionism with its compulsivity
    and obsession with colonial power (displaying the spectrum of its essentially big bully with a lot of money and mega fire power) stops
    and anti-semitism begins. Which of course plays to the Zionists’ benefit and splices away one of THE essential rights – the freedom of speech – of citizens in the town square of this country – as is the freedom of assembly. The clamp down on speech these days lives in that realm of shame Biden has brought on to the face of this country. Hopefully, journalists/reporters will dig into the backgrounds of these who would thwart the essential rights (values) on which this country was founded. Quite interesting is the following bit of information in explaining one of Biden’s motivations to being morally bankrupt in his twinship with that all but convicted criminal, Mr. Bibi, so thick skinned there is no heart left to witness all those precious innocents, babies being shot, maimed, starved to death.”BLOOD MONEY: THE TOP TEN POLITICIANS TAKING THE MOST ISRAEL LOBBY CASH By Alan MacLeod, MintPress News. December 19, 2023?Educate! Biden  $4,346,264 Menendez  $2,483,205 McConnell $1,953,160 Schumer  $1,725,324 Hoyer  $1,620,294 Wyden (OR)  $1,279,376 Cruz  $1,299,194 Durbin , $1,126,020 Brown , $1,028,686 Gottheimer  $1,109,370″ When is AIPAC going to be finally addressed as a lobby in service to a foreign country that is deeply involved in twisting our electoral process?

    • robert e williamson jr
      December 23, 2023 at 16:19

      Ms. Sweet. Fantastic job here. I wonder could you list your source for this info?

      I have a sitting U.S. Senator I intend to write to. I added these numbers and got well over $18 million.

      As of October 12, 2023 the US the most recent year for for which a total exists. This is by

      It is a fact that JFK and RFK were working to get AIPAC investigated by DOJ

      Do a search for the Israellobby Archive as you scroll down through the stories you will find sever sources for related Info.

      Look for the date October 17, 2008, the title High Lighted in Blue – SECRET DOJ BATTLE WITH AIPAC’s PARENT ORGANIZATION this will be a good place for you to start. Under Report of the United States by the Comptroller General , GAO Finds Investigations of Israeli Weapons Grade Uranium Diversions “Inadequate”. I happen to think this entire affair helped get JFK killed.

      Thanks CN

  5. firstpersoninfinite
    December 21, 2023 at 13:27

    Kojo Acheampong is too good for Harvard University. Such clear thinking is an abhorrence not only to their billionaire alumni, but also to their shameless sycophants in Congress who think genocide is the first option in a bad situation. To these lawmakers, all of whom took an oath to defend the Constitution to be in office, free speech is now the right to remain silent – or else.

  6. ray Peterson
    December 21, 2023 at 13:19

    Not to forget the Israel Lobby, (book by Mearsheimer and Walt),
    the powerhouse that promotes or crashes American politician’s
    careers. A Zionist organization as omnipresent and supportive
    as the war industry (also a book, by Christian Sorensen).
    If middle- and upper-class college kids want good jobs, they’d
    better tow the Israel Lobby war industry line.

Comments are closed.